Law Librarians + Legal Marketing = Successful Client Service

week the Twitterverse and other content spaces were abuzz (or atweet?), with
commentary on the story from Bloomberg Law on how
Law Firm Librarians Feel Underused and
. Many in the sector agreed or felt that it was
a wake up call of some kind. The article was
based on a
survey compiled by Bloomberg Law for the annual conference of the
Association of Law Libraries (AALL)
, the librarians
who take part in the survey were polled in person, and others later, over email.
Most interestingly to me, was a quote
from Bloomberg Law President David Perla
“Librarians are saying, ‘We can
help a firm anticipate what a client is going to need. We can be ahead of the
client.” It reminded me specifically of another Bloomberg Law article from
earlier in the summer on
Why Law Firms Need to Change their Marketing Priorities. In that article it’s the marketing
departments at law firms that are over burdened and understaffed. One legal marketer who was interviewed
suggested “[legal marketers]
often don’t have enough time to focus on the most
fundamental tasks in business development, such as helping lawyers to increase
satisfaction for current clients, plan sales advances or follow up consistently.” If librarians should be proactive to get
noticed, and the business development people need help increasing satisfaction
for current clients, isn’t a blending Library/BD person or department the perfect
client service marriage? A one plus one
equals two kind of equation?

We have heard again and again in client
satisfaction surveys within the legal community that the number one driver for
outside counsel selection is a firm who
knows and understands a client’s business
. I blogged about that here
some months ago; the evolution of
CI is from Competitor to Client Intelligence. There is also an
assumption among clients that we “all
know, what we each know”
within a firm. That is to say, that
law firms provide knowledgeable, efficient and most of all, anticipatory client
service, as Perla suggests. There is no
doubt that Bloomberg Law has a pulse on the legal market – they are in the
business of knowing what firms need, and filling that resource void. But they
can’t do it alone.

Librarians feel underused and Marketing/BD
professionals in firms are drowning in the volume of work and expectations
from their lawyer clients. From my
perspective, there is a broader issue of collaboration by law firm
management groups at play here. Each
department has their mandate, and each is tentative about stepping outside of
their world either for fear of repercussion or lack-of-
getting-credit-angst. I’ve worked with
and reported into several different administrative groups in my time at law firms. And I can tell you that almost all
non-lawyers in firms feel underused, it is not just a Librarian thing. The fact that we are described by the
negative “non” prefix is the case in point. A commentary that several others in the
industry have waxed poetic about before and I don’t need to rehash those
discussions. Instead, I offer a solution – a rallying point for the non lawyers
who are reading this blog.
Let’s work together, truly collaborate and check the
egos and credit ratings at the door. Ultimately, we all
want to succeed in our professions and in our roles within firms. For the
marketing people amongst us, that means looking outside of our departments and
realizing that there are other smart savvy people within our firms who can help
to manage the work load by implementing technology tools, researching in
anticipation of client needs or increasing the current awareness portfolio. For
Librarians it means thinking about information in a commercial way, for
example, how can a legislative change impact clients or increase firm revenue
and it is about getting out of the library to chat people up and find out what is
keeping them up at night and then matching those anxieties with resources. For all non lawyers, it necessitates a
brushing up on soft skills, especially communication, leadership and
negotiation skills. David Maiser, in Strategy
and the Fat Smoker
, says “We often (or even usually) know what we
should be doing in both personal and professional life. We also know why we
should be doing it and (often) how to do it.
Figuring it out is not too difficult.
What is very hard is actually doing what you know to be good for you in
the long-run, in spite of short-run temptations.” Collaboration at the highest level –
integrated technology platforms, cross departmental response and readiness
teams, mutual respect and assistance, is not easy, but we know it’s an
imperative, the two Bloomberg Law articles alone demonstrate the ease of the
equation. True collaboration will make
firms coordinated, efficient, balanced and competitive and you’d be hard
pressed to find a client who is not willing the pay full rates for a firm like

from Blogger


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